Goal: Allow diabetes patients to make a photo log of food & drink items for diabetes patients, including the estimated carb count. This would link both to their private account and also to a public blog of all users
Platform: PicPlz, ifttt, Google Calendar, Tumblr
Audience: Diabetes patients
Target behavior: Get diabetes patients to log their nutritional intake with their mobile phone
With this exercise, I am focusing on creating a method for logging nutritional information. This is one area where automated data download is nearly impossible. In most situations, the information (carb count) can usually only be determined by a human, not a device.
But any method of adding ingredients in a meal building program is often times a tedious process. Imagine having to add each ingredient in a sandwich to a meal builder program to get the total meal carb count. First you would need to search for and then add the bread, then the meat, then the cheese, then the condiments. No product like this has gained widespread adoption within the diabetes community.
In most situations when I have food in front of me, I want to be eating and not logging my information. I would prefer a system that allows me to take a picture and also add a caption. That would include an estimated carb count, ingredient list or other meta data.
Hot trigger: SMS received on your mobile phone sent 30 minutes before your scheduled meal times via Twilio.
Simplicity: A picture is worth a thousand words. Taking one picture should feed the pictures into both a private and (optional) public stream. It is also a task designed to be accomplished in under a minute. Take a picture, add a caption, send.
The picture could jog a patient’s memory about what he ate. It could also allow a doctor to see whether a patient is accurately calculating carb totals.
I linked my picplz.com account to my Twitter account. I then set up an ifttt task where the picture is forwarded to both Google Calendar and Tumblr. The Calendar entry would be for the patient’s private logging of information. The Tumblr account would be used by all users of the service, allowing a social network to form where patients can view each others photos.
I would have liked to have used a more direct system, but there are a few barriers. First, I am on an Android phone. If I was on an iPhone, I could use Foursquare’s mobile app to record the photo, caption metadata and location data. But this service is not available on Android yet. Also, my phone has been having problems this last week, meaning that I can not use any apps.
I tested the system by uploading images directly from the picplz.com website.
The problems came more from Twitter. The search results are not updated that often, so it takes a while for ifttt to forward the photo on to Tumblr.
I corrected this problem by creating a third ifttt task with more specific criteria that doesn’t rely on updated Twitter search results. But the information is not fed into the Tumblr blog well, so the user would have to click on a link to see the photo. I was hoping the photo would be loaded directly.
Also, ifttt does not handle the data well with Google Calendar. It puts all the information in the top line of a new event, which looks bad. It would be nice if ifttt allowed for more refined data placement within the Google Calendar fields.
I also had a problem getting Twilio to work. Their API is not that user friendly. The code is written in PHP, a language that I do not understand. I wanted to set it up to send me an SMS automatically at specific times each day, but I could not get it to work.
The available tools seem unable to create the user experience and feedback loop I am looking for. Additionally, the Tumblr site is intended to create a soft trigger, inspiring patients to join the community and start taking their own photos.